Off-kilter indie-pop quartet Love Is Chemicals is a group of expert multi-taskers. Between organizing tonight's Secret Satan show at the Hemlock and arranging more sharp-edged guitar pop for their upcoming album, these folks are busy locals. Band member Dan Baber -- with a little help from fellow chemists Nick Mirov and Nate Grover -- sat down to discuss the band's music, Saturday's show, and how the group got that unusual name.
How would you describe your sound without using genres or style names?
Nate: Like a party of sea gods, snake oil salesmen, dancers, and devils in white.
How did the band get together?
As a 4-track project in Nate and Courtney's apartment. The two of them then met Nick at a Fugazi show in Dolores Park. I joined the band in 2008 when a friend forwarded me an e-mail they sent out to fans announcing the departure of their former drummer.
What inspired the band name?
Nate: We were called The Chemistry Set for a while, but came into contention with a mystic funk band over the name, and so we changed it to something similar: Love Is Chemicals. Perhaps we wanted something a little whimsical (love) and a little gloomy (is only chemicals) which seems to fit our music pretty well.
What's the next project you're working on?
We just started recording a new album at New Improved Recording in Oakland. Basic tracking is going well, and so far it's sounding pretty different from the last record. It's got a darker, thicker sound. The drums sound pretty huge so far. There's this deep, low snare sound that I think is going to bring a whole different feel. Of course, I may be the only one who notices that. I think we all have it in our heads that this one will have fewer overdubs, and will end up sounding less polished than the last one. We definitely all want to keep some of that grit there.
Your Top 3 albums of the '90s:
Radiohead - OK Computer
Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream
Hum - Downward is Heavenward
Neutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
Pavement - Slanted and Enchanted
Low - Secret Name
Erik Satie - "Vexations"
Scott Joplin - "Maple Leaf Rag"
Antonin Dvorak - "Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104, B. 191"
Last song that was stuck in your head and you were glad to have stuck in your head: Today it's that "Bed Intruder" YouTube song. It's the catchiest thing I've heard in a long time. At the moment I'm loving it. I'll probably hate it later tonight.
Nick's pick: "Whip My Hair (Chopped and Dümed)"
Last song that was stuck in your head and was annoying to you: At work we blast a song really loudly every day at 4:00 p.m. Recently someone played Bobby Brown's "Every Little Step" and that wouldn't leave me alone for days.
Nick's pick: "Whip My Hair" (original version)
Best burrito in San Francisco: Veggie Burrito at Taqueria Cancun, 3211 Mission St. The location is very important. Not all Cancuns are created equal.
Favorite Bay Area Bar: My new favorite bar is The Sycamore, at Mission and Sycamore. It's a great little place for beer enthusiasts. A constantly rotating list of excellent draft microbrews, most of which are quite high in alcohol content, super friendly bartenders who actually know and give a shit about what they're serving, and one of the better jukeboxes in the city. Bonus points for the BBQ Seitan sandwich.
Favorite Halloween costume that you've worn: One year back in Richmond (Virginia) I played a show on Halloween, and went as "Gene Simmons dressed as Richard Simmons." There's a DVD of that somewhere. Hopefully not on the Internet.
At this Secret Satan show, will you actually be dressing up as the bands you're covering?
That's the plan, yes. I'm not sure how elaborate everyone's costumes will be, but we'll give it the ol' college try.
How did you choose the bands on the bill?
We are actually friends with everyone else on the bill, either from playing shows together or just socially. I play drums for Jake Mann & The Upper Hand, and it was Jake who introduced me to Payam, who then introduced me to Love is Chemicals.
Will we hear any full albums, or will it just be a selection of songs from particular bands?
Each band is going to do a six or seven song set of greatest hits more or less. We really wanted to have a lot of bands on the bill, almost like a little mini Halloween festival.
For more on Saturday's Secret Satan show, see our chat with HIJK.
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